In the ’80s and ’90s I remember flipping through the pages of my Young Miss Magazine, the J.Crew catalog, and Glamour and ripping out all the pages of the models I thought were the prettiest because I aspired to be just like them.
And then, instead of throwing them in the trash like I should have, I taped them to my wall.
My teenage bedroom was painted peach and it was adorned with pictures of models with long, flowing hair, supple skin, pouty lips, and flawless bodies.
I didn’t know much about airbrushing then, but I did know this: I would stand and look at my reflection and I’d see none of what was staring back at me on my bedroom walls.
Not even close.
And when anyone took out a camera, there was always a fear my flaws would be standing at attention. All of my insecurities and imperfections probably stood out to me because I’d wallpapered my walls with an unrealistic standard. A standard I thought I was supposed to be in order to be liked and accepted.
And now, snapping selfies happens on the daily all over the world with our teens.
Is there pressure to look perfect in every picture? Of course, there is. I feel it and I am 43-year-old woman who has grown comfortable in her skin and cares way less about how others see me than I did when I was a teen.
No one wants an unflattering picture of themselves posted online, and in this day and age where everyone from celebrities, to singers, to all your kids’ friends post pretty pictures of themselves on the regular, the pressure is greater than ever.
We thought Vogue made us feel small when we were growing up, yeah. But what our teens are experiencing now in this era of technology is what we were feeling on steroids. Getting a magazine at your local CVS can’t hold a candle to thumbing through their Instagram and SnapChat accounts.
My teen daughter told me over half of her feed contains perfect, beautiful pictures of her friends, celebrities, or influencers that she follows.
According to the article,”A survey by YMCA of 1,000 Brits aged 11-16 about body image expectations revealed that 58 per cent say celebrities are responsible, while 52 per cent blamed people on social media.”
As a result, YMCA and Dove have teamed up to launch the #IPledgeToBeReal campaign in hopes to make all teens free to post real pictures without feeling like they are only good enough if they are model-like.
The response so far has been a positive one as celebrities like Natasha Devon, Michelle Elman, and Charley Koontz have signed on and taken the pledge.
Of course, we only want to put our best self out in front of an audience, I’ve never heard anyone who is overjoyed when their friends tag them in an unflattering picture on Facebook without asking their permission first.
But we need to remind our teens that’s not the reality 100% of the time and the don’t need to put pressure on themselves to live up to the unrealistic standard celebrities and influencers are showing the world from their accounts whether they post selfies of themselves or not.
Not only do a lot of these influencers and celebrities have a team in place that picks out their wardrobe, and does their hair and makeup, many of them have personal trainers, and people who tell them how to pose a certain way, not to mention if the photos are altered.
No wonder our teens feel the pressure– it’s in their face all the time and they are looking at themselves wondering why they can’t achieve that type of beauty– many might not have the capacity to realize pictures are usually people’s highlight reels and not their everyday normal.
This is a good start, and a trend that hopefully will catch on, but, it’s up to us as parents to remind our kids they are beautiful the way they are and they don’t need perfect hair, makeup or clothes before they snap, then post, a picture.